The wait is over, as Lucas Giolito is officially a Washington National. The prized right-hander will be promoted to start on Tuesday against the New York Mets, taking the place of Stephen Strasburg, who has been placed on the 15-day DL with an upper back strain.
Giolito’s hype as a prospect is well documented, and the anticipation for his arrival has only grown in recent months. He is joining the Nationals from Double-A Harrisburg, where he had delivered seemingly mixed results—striking out 72 batters in 71 innings pitched with a 3.17 ERA, but posting an unusually high 4.3 BB/9 rate.
The walk rate was largely inflated by Giolito’s early season inconsistencies, which ESPN’s Keith Law said coincided with his implementation of a tweaked delivery that was eventually scrapped. Giolito has been better over the last two months, particularly since the beginning of June, as he has fanned 30 batters over his last 22 innings.
While Giolito has the ability to pitch atop the Nationals rotation for years to come, this call-up could be a trial run. No timetable firm has been set for Strasburg’s return, but given that he is eligible to return from the DL Friday, Giolito may only turn in a start or two.
In that instance, the Nationals could follow a previous example and do for Giolito as they did for Joe Ross during a similar circumstance last year. Ross was promoted from Harrisburg early last June to aid an injury-riddled rotation, making three starts before returning to the minors. About a month later he returned for good, but only after a stint at Triple-A Syracuse.
The circumstances of 2016 are different than the circumstances of 2015, but this provides some idea as to how the Nationals will handle Giolito’s development. An eventual move to Syracuse would give him a new challenge, while keeping him closer to the majors in the likely event that the Nationals utilize him later this year.
In another scenario, the Nationals could opt to keep Giolito in the majors if they decide to remove the struggling Gio Gonzalez from the rotation, but it remains to be seen if the team is ready to make such a move.
Since Giolito is not on the 40-man roster, a corresponding move will be needed to complete his promotion. To fulfill that requirement, the Nationals will most likely place Taylor Jordan — who recently underwent Tommy John surgery—on the 60-day DL.Tags: Lucas Giolito, Nationals, Nats, Washington Nationals